Geneva — The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria said that it is committed to supporting health services in Mali, despite logistical challenges caused by recent military and political uncertainty.
Lelio Marmora, Head of the Global Fund's West Africa and Middle East Department, told a news briefing yesterday that the Global Fund is deeply concerned about the current situation in Mali and is talking every day to partners on the ground.
"The people of Mali need support now more than ever," said Mr. Marmora. "Our policy is to stay involved, to face the risks, and to help our partners deliver treatment and prevention wherever possible."
In November, 2012, the Global Fund signed a grant agreement to resume full-scale HIV screening, prevention and treatment in Mali, worth EUR58 million, together with the United Nations Development Program. To implement the grant, many special precautions had to be taken, including some shifts to adapt to changing conditions on the ground, a zero-cash policy and a staggered sequence of delivery of health products.
Two additional grants are expected to be finalized later this month, one for malaria and the other for tuberculosis, worth EUR 45 million and EUR 7 million, respectively.
"These new grants will allow the distribution of 4.9 million bed nets, the purchase of 4 million malaria treatments, the diagnosis of 15,000 tuberculosis patients and of 72 cases of multi-drug-resistant TB," said Tina Draser, the Global Fund's Regional Manager for Western Africa.
The new grants incorporate firm measures taken by the Global Fund and its partners after mismanagement of funds was discovered in 2010. Instead of pulling out of Mali, with its extreme poverty and high disease burden, the Global Fund decided instead to stay and take what steps were possible to continue support for essential services.
More than 30,000 people living with HIV in Mali are receiving antiretroviral treatment with support from the Global Fund and a further 20,000 are getting quality care.
The Global Fund has been funding programs in Mali since December 2003, and did not stop after a coup d'état in March 2012. The Global Fund works in close coordination with national and international partners, by taking necessary precautions, and by applying intelligent grant management, which means constantly adjusting to a changing reality.
"All our results in Mali have been achieved thanks to our excellent collaboration with multilateral and bilateral partners, such as USAID and France; United Nations agencies including UNDP, UNICEF and UNAIDS; French civil society organizations, among them Coalition Plus, Esther, Sidaction and Solthis; and our national partners," said Tina Draser.